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Saskatchewan Health Minister apologizes after seniors home eviction

Saskatchawan Health Minister Don McMorris

Paul Daly

Health Minister Don McMorris is apologizing to 10 residents who were evicted from a Saskatchewan seniors home.

The residents were in a form of assisted living at St. Mary's Villa in Humboldt when they were given less than a week to move out.

Mr. McMorris said that's not what should have happened in a patient-centred health-care system.

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"There are seniors that went through some pretty trying times probably through that weekend and even issues through the move that just are not satisfactory," Mr. McMorris said Monday in the legislature.

"I apologize because no one should have to go through that. We should have handled that better."

St. Mary's Villa moved the seniors to make space for 32 other patients, with higher medical needs, who lived in part of the facility where structural problems were found. A draft engineering report said the flooring on their unit is deteriorating.

The Saskatoon Health Region has said there are no imminent safety risks, but it also said the 32 patients needed to be relocated by the end of March to ensure their continued well-being.

The health region helped move the 10 seniors, most of them to a private seniors housing complex.

Family members complained that the situation was stressful for the seniors who thought they'd made their final move. The families said their loved ones were getting the "bum's rush to the door."

Some families also raised concerns that many of the residents were moved to a complex that costs more than twice as much as the villa. They said that cost would probably be impossible for most of the residents who rely solely on their pensions.

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Mr. McMorris said asking seniors to turn over their lives on such short notice is not appropriate.

"What they needed really ... was more time to adjust or more support through that, if it was a week, through that week period, more support to answer the questions that they had," he said.

"I don't think that was necessarily the case. They were searching for answers (and) didn't have the support to get those answers."

Mr. McMorris hopes the province's ombudsman will provide the answers. Kevin Fenwick has been asked to investigate and to make recommendations so nothing similar happens again.

"We felt that it was appropriate that we would call in the ombudsman to have a greater look at this and see where the mistakes were made, because obviously there have been mistakes, definitely on the communications side for sure."

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